Australia is “working with Singapore” to create a travel bubble between the two nations as early as July, officials said yesterday, in an effort to restart tourism and travel put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, Australia effectively closed its international border to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, with non-citizens banned from visiting except in special circumstances.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the country was “working with Singapore at the moment, potentially for a bubble [beginning] in July.”
“As the vaccine rolls out, not only in Australia, but in other countries, we will reopen more bubbles,” he told Australia Broadcasting Corp.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the deal would allow Singaporeans and Australians who had been vaccinated for COVID-19 to travel between the countries without quarantining.
The newspaper said Canberra is also hoping that people from third countries — such as international students, business travelers and returning citizens — could complete two weeks’ quarantine in Singapore before flying to Australia.
However, Singapore, which has already opened its border to a handful of countries that have controlled the virus, including Australia, said it was “not in discussion on the concept of a quarantine center or vaccination hub.”
“Singapore is currently in discussions with Australia on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates and resumption of travel with priority for students and business travelers,” the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“We are also discussing the possibility of an air travel bubble which will allow residents of Singapore and Australia to travel between both countries without the need for quarantine,” it said.
Australia’s 14-day hotel quarantine requirement for arrivals has left tens of thousands of Australians stranded overseas, with caps on returnees introduced as the limited system has been unable to cope with large numbers.
International tourism — worth about A$45 billion (US$35 billion) per year to the country’s economy before the pandemic hit — has evaporated.
Australia already has a one-way “travel bubble” with New Zealand, allowing Kiwis to visit without quarantining, although the scheme has been suspended a number of times in response to virus outbreaks.
Separately yesterday, Australia recorded its second local case of COVID-19 in as many days after a worker at two quarantine hotels tested positive for the coronavirus.
The infection is the first locally acquired case of COVID-19 in New South Wales in 55 days.
Queensland, which on Saturday reported Australia’s first local infection in two weeks, yesterday said it had detected no cases in the past 24 hours.
Saturday’s case is a doctor who tested positive after she had treated two patients with the UK variant of the virus.
Unsure of the size of the outbreak, Queensland closed hospitals and elderly care facilities to visitors for three days.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Taiwanese businesspeople’s investments in China last year hit a record low of 11.4 percent of total foreign investment, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. The number was a huge decline from 83.8 percent in 2010, mainly because Taiwanese businesspeople have been diversifying their investments globally over the past few years, with great success, the council said. From 1991 to last year, 45,523 Taiwanese investments in China totaling US$206.37 billion had been approved, accounting for 50.7 percent of overall foreign investment, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission showed. The amount and proportion of Taiwanese investments in China has been declining, with
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China
KINMEN: Coast guards on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should prohibit the entry of illegal vessels into ‘restricted’ waters to uphold maritime safety, Chen Chien-jen said Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approach the security of Kinmen and Xiamen waters with rationality and equitability, following a boat chase that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week. Chen was responding to media inquiries ahead of a legislative session amid rising cross-strait tensions following the capsizing of a Chinese speedboat off the east coast of Kinmen on Wednesday last week during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard. The Ministry of National Defense established the boundaries of “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen in 1992 to better protect